It may not feel like it, but the transatlantic security relationship finished the first year of Trump’s presidency a little better than where it started. After the drubbing NATO received from Donald Trump during the campaign and in the first few months after his election, it could have been much worse. At least his administration continued the efforts begun by the Obama Administration to deal with Russian aggression in Europe, especially the build-up of US forces in Europe and the strengthening of the NATO deterrent against Russia. And President Trump did finally tip his hat to Article 5. But there can be no argument that the transatlantic security relationship also finished the year bruised and battered to an unprecedented degree, with Allies unsure whether there were still shared values or even a shared world view. There was even less confidence that Trump’s commitment to NATO was sincere.
What Trump’s rhetoric did in his first year was to unleash the two genies that have haunted the US-European relationship for years: for Europeans, that Europe was forever tied to US leadership—for better or worse; and for Americans, that the US was condemned to always carrying the defense load for “deadbeat Allies”. Trump the deconstructor smashed the bottles where these two genies lived, releasing them to cause havoc in the relationship. This has had the effect in Europe of injecting new energy into the quest for a continent decoupled from US leadership. In the US, it wasn’t just Trump’s political base that was satisfied at finally seeing the US grievance publicly, albeit rudely, aired – including the threat of “fix it, or else!”
Read the full op-ed in European Leadership Network.
More from CNAS
PodcastThe Latest Phase of the War in Ukraine, with Mike Kofman and Jeff Edmonds
Has the war in Ukraine reached a critical turning point? Mike Kofman and Jeff Edmonds join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss the evolution of the military situ...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Michael Kofman & Jeffrey Edmonds
PodcastPolitical Churn in Europe, with Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook and Max Bergmann
What do the recent upheavals in European politics mean for the future of transatlantic cooperation? Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook and Max Bergmann join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook & Max Bergmann
PodcastUkraine's Window of Opportunity?
With military circles abuzz that Ukraine might be preparing to launch a counter-offensive against Russian-held Kherson, Michael Kofman of CNA’s Russia team joins War on the Ro...
By Michael Kofman
PodcastThe State of EU-China Relations, with Noah Barkin and Francesca Ghiretti
What have been the latest key developments in EU-China relations? Noah Barkin and Francesca Ghiretti join Carisa Nietsche and Jim Townsend to discuss milestones in the relatio...
By Carisa Nietsche, Jim Townsend, Noah Barkin & Francesca Ghiretti